Today is the birthday of famous movie cowboy Roy Rogers, who we think of as a fixture of the wide open western expanse even though he actually entered the world at Cincinnati, Ohio.
Though it’s hard to imagine two forms of entertainment that are more out of fashion today than musicals and westerns, Rogers excelled at both. His work with the ensemble Sons of the Pioneers is a source of fond musical memories for me, although I don’t have many warm feelings towards hay, saddles, guns or cactus.
Born Leonard Slye, Rogers was a Hollywood creation, although he did seem to play well with horses. In this video clip, Trigger steals the show and Roy lets him, which strikes me as both kind-hearted and practical.
Though I didn’t think this was allowed, you can watch full Roy Rogers movies on Youtube, where there’s something for everyone. In “Sunset in the West”, Roy and Trigger deal with a hijacked train that’s full of guns, which ought to have equal appeal to those rail-loving new urbanists and the N.R.A., though for different reasons.
There aren’t many celebrities today with the kind of broad appeal that can span the political, musical, sartorial and behavioral boundaries we draw around ourselves. Roy Rogers had that quality, though I’m sure his solid relationship with Trigger helped.
Who is the Roy Rogers of today?